Choice — America and God’s Kingdom…

“Before the world was, a plan was presented that we, all of the children of Father in Heaven, would come to Earth in a probationary period, to obtain bodies of flesh and bone, and to learn to be more like God. A Savior would be provided that we might through His atoning sacrifice choose to repent and return to God in a perfected state. Our agency to choose was of paramount importance in the plan for us to learn the lessons necessary in this life to progress eternally. Jesus Christ stepped forward willing to provide that sacrifice, and we were all given the opportunity to choose to follow Him. Since that grand council in Heaven, the adversary has worked to deprive us of our agency by the encouragement of poor choices and the governments of wicked men. Agency is central to the plan of God for the exaltation of His children, and anything that discourages or deprives our agency is only worthy of rejection. Following Jesus Christ is choosing agency and liberty everlasting.”

Daniel Joseph Malcolm, 17 February 2024

I love, cherish, the gift of the freedom to choose. What a joyful thing it is that we have been blessed with freedoms in life, agency, to elect to do the desires of our minds and hearts. I cherish the laws of God that I am guided by truth and heavenly wisdom to walk in paths that will bring lasting happiness and eternal reward. This freedom to choose blesses me with the opportunity to by my own will and desire become more like the man God would have me be, more like our greatest exemplar Jesus. I want to be the man Heavenly Father blessed me with gifts and means to become, so I choose to follow the Savior, and repent when I choose unwisely. This gift of agency is my blessing to choose and to become the best I can be, a gift only made possible and given to us all by His grace.

Lehi gives his family a final blessing.

In the scriptures we read the great eternal truth of the gift of agency and atonement as revealed by the Prophet Lehi. “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that He may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:25-27).

When I was a boy, my father taught me by word and example the importance of the freedom I have to vote. He also taught me the importance of making good choices when I vote. I should study out the issues and the candidates, know how they will affect and preserve the freedom and peace of our nation, and vote accordingly, but nevertheless, maintain my right to vote by voting. It is when I act upon my freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America to vote and to keep the law, that I choose and preserve freedom for myself and the generations who follow.

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States on September 17, 1787,” a 1940 portrait by Howard Chandler Christy

There are consequences for the choices I make both legally and in how I vote. If I break the law, drive recklessly, and by so doing injure the innocent, my freedom to drive may justifiably be restricted. If I vote for individuals of questionable character, who either do not respect the law or do not value the principles enumerated by our inspired founding fathers in the Constitution, I imperil the Bill of Rights, through which I am guaranteed the freedoms I value so much. The choices we make matter, and making selfish or unwise choices result in diminished agency and happiness.

Of America, I believe the prophetic edict that “the Lord hath covenanted this land unto… all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (2 Nephi 1:6). With this covenant, God has the expectation that we will live righteously and choose leadership who will guide in righteousness our communities and nations. Poor choices and wickedness on the part of our people or leaders will result in dire consequences. “Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom He shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve Him according to the commandments which He hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:6). I am counting on righteousness prevailing and our freedom to choose being forever preserved.

Oh, what a wonderful thing it is that our Heavenly Father has provided agency to all His children to choose, enjoy the blessings of our choice when they are wise, and to learn from the consequences of our bad choices. It is understandable that one’s familial happiness might be restricted if one is unfaithful to the law of chastity or untrue to loved ones. I am so grateful that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, by His Grace, we have the additional choice to repent and correct the poor choices of today for better living, harmony and hope tomorrow.

Adam and Eve were given the freedom of choice in Eden, that paradise of paradises on Earth, and made decisions for our good and benefit. To make a choice with such far-reaching repercussions and consequences, our first parents, representing us all, needed to know the flesh and the full joy of life in order to make a decision to give it all up, to give up one paradise for another paradise, one with sharp edges and trials, but nevertheless paradise still. I am so grateful for the paradise of choice we all enjoy.

“Adam and Eve Teaching Their Children” by Del Parson

“And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free…. Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for He is full of grace and truth. Behold, He offereth Himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (2 Nephi 2:4,6-7).

I thank God for the gift of agency, the gift of choice, with which we have all been blessed. May we live long on Earth choosing to follow Jesus Christ and receiving the blessings of His atoning sacrifice. Let us choose in our temporal lives to be upright and to call for righteousness on the part of those who we choose to lead, that the very freedoms that guarantee our right to worship God and follow His law to eternal joy may be forever preserved. May we by our agency keep God’s commandments, that this consecrated land will forever benefit our people and the world, and that we may be blessed to forever dwell in His kingdom. Choose Jesus Christ and life eternal. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Flag ceremony for Boy Scouts of America Peachwood Ward, Sequoia Council, Troop 110 in Yosemite National Park.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.